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Remembering Carol Greig

Mary Bastedo, M.Div., is a long-time member of L’Arche and L’Arche Daybreak. She was completing an advanced internship in spiritual direction at Loyola House in Guelph when she delivered this reflection at the funeral celebration for Carol Greig.

John Smeltzer and Carol Greig in 2008

John Smeltzer and Carol Greig in 2008

Our gospel today tells us: Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the Kingdom of God.

God’s invites us to a banquet: Come, for everything is ready now

But many of us don’t live in that realm of the now, the present moment. We live in the realm of plans and acquisitions – in the not yet: I’m too busyjust a minutemaybe tomorrowmaybe next year. I have just bought something and must try it out – whether it be land, oxen, a car, an iPod, a new computer, a sound system or a house Or I have just been married. There are other relationships that are more important to me than coming to your dinner. What would my friends say?

So the owner of the house says, Bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame. And then, Bring in those from the highways and byways – the travelers, the seekers, the wanderers, the adventurers. Go the airports, go on the internet. Bring them in. I want my house to be full.

It’s as if Jesus had said to the community leaders at Daybreak, Bring in David, Carol, Peter, Janice and Bill. And then being in someone from Brazil, Mexico, Poland, Massachusetts and Germany. And let’s see what will happen when we put them all together!

Yesterday at the Dayspring chapel there was a photograph over Carol’s coffin of these very people, sitting around the table at the Green House. At the wake last night Lori van Holt, who was 19 years old when she came to live at the Green House and is now married and expecting their fifth child, said, I can’t think of Carol without imagining her at the table. Carol shared meals around that table for 23 years.

Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the Kingdom of God. What is this Kingdom of God like? What is it like to be at table with Carol Greig?

  • There is laughter – clapping, throwing napkins, hugs, little comments under her breath that only those closest to her can hear, mischief
  • There is communion – bringing people together, holding hands, ritual, blowing out the candle at the end of prayer
  • There is presence. Last night I had dinner at the Green House and there was such a painful absence. Nobody wanted to sit in the living room because it felt to empty. And around the table she was so missed. It was painful. Sometimes we don’t really appreciate the quality of a person’s presence until there is an absence.

This is the curious mixture of people who make up the community we call L’Arche – some people who limp or use walkers or wheelchairs, people who speak in unique ways, often without words, and people from all over the world. God delights in bringing us together around the table, to break bread, to share in God’s own feast. And it’s in our sharing life together that we discover the One who invited us, in ways we have never known before. We find a sense of homecoming, of belonging. We discover our own lovableness, and how much we need one another, in order to live in that awareness that we’re loved, in order to really trust it.

Carol became in her turn one who invites. She invited us to relationship – to laugh, to hold hands, to sing. She invited us to be embraced – to love and be loved. She invited us to fidelity – as we discovered the limits of our energy, our difficulty to accept chaos and to give up control, and as we discovered our vulnerability, our helplessness in conflict and in crisis.

It’s not always easy to live at the Green House. But Carol was one of the people constantly inviting us to live in the now, in the present moment – to forgive, to embrace, to laugh, to sing, to pray, to move beyond the hurts, to rediscover gratitude.

Carol lived many losses in her life, as Lydia described, especially in her later years. Towards the end she could no longer walk and could not always feed herself. But what she never lost was her capacity for communion, her capacity to invite others into relationship. I was close to Carol when she first came to Daybreak. Then she was very active. We had fun cooking together, going out grocery shopping and out for rides. Karina and Elizabeth came into Carol’s life only in the past few years, and they fell in love with Carol. This speaks to me of her capacity for relationship, which she never lost.

Now God has invited her to the heavenly banquet, delighting in her, joking with her. She will live forever in communion with the One who is the giver of the banquet. As Jesus gathers us together around this table of the Eucharist, this banquet of the Kingdom of God, may we experience deeply a new communion with Carol, a communion that goes on forever because she is now living in the heart of God.